The German data protection authorities recently came with an announcement of blocking Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, mentioning some privacy concerns.
Facebook and WhatsApp assured in the wake of the Silicon Valley giant’s 2014 acquisition of the messaging app that they would not share data; Hamburg’s Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Johannes Caspar recalled in a statement and added that “Facebook would be required to delete any data already received from WhatsApp in Germany. It has to be (the users’) decision whether they want to connect their account with Facebook. Facebook has to ask for their permission in advance.”
In the month of August WhatsApp made an announcement regarding sharing of data with Facebook, in a bid to allow better targeted advertising and fight spam on the platform. Currently, users of the instant messenger must opt out of sending information to Facebook through WhatsApp’s settings on their smartphone.
“We had acted to protect the privacy of 35 million WhatsApp users in Germany — a fraction of some one billion worldwide — and that of people saved in their address books, whose details might also be forwarded under the data-sharing arrangement.” Added Casper
Facebook’s activities in German-speaking regions are managed through its subsidiary in Hamburg, placing the firm under the jurisdiction of the regulator in the northern port city. WhatsApp’s announcement that it would share information with Facebook came just four months after the service introduced end-to-end encryption by default, saying that the content of messages would become unreadable for anyone except the sender and receiver.